With this lesson we consider the momentous event that launched the three-year public ministry of Jesus – his baptism. Some events of Jesus’ life are recorded by only one gospel writer. But this one (and a few others) is recorded by all four – adding, no doubt, to its significance. From this event arise several significant questions. Let’s consider some of them.
- The details of Jesus’ baptism are recorded in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:29-34.
- Jesus traveled from Nazareth of Galilee (Mark 1:9) to the Jordan River where John was baptizing. It was his sole purpose for traveling to be baptized by John (Matt. 3:13).
- When Jesus made his intentions known to John, he was minded to object (Matt. 3:14). If anyone should be baptized, it should be John.
- Jesus, however, objected to John’s objection. He said that John should “let it be so now.” In other words, “allow it at this time.” The reason given by Jesus was, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” So John baptized him (Matt. 3:15).
- When Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus “in a bodily form” (Luke 3:22), like a dove (Matt. 3:16). At that point, a voice from heaven was heard saying these words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
What Reasons Were Not Involved in Jesus’ Baptism?
- As we noted in the last lesson, John’s baptism required repentance (Mark 1:4; Matt. 3:8) and confession of sins (Matt. 3:6), resulting in the remission of sins (Mark 1:4; cf. Acts 2:38). But Jesus had no sin (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22).
- Therefore, the immersion of Jesus was unique. It did not fall within the normal realm of John’s activity. Even John recognized this (Matt. 3:14).
Why Was Jesus Baptized?
- To prove to John that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (John 1:31).
- Prior to the events at the Jordan, he knew that Jesus was an exceptional person because he tried to reverse their roles at the baptism. But he did not have a clear understanding of the Savior’s true identity until he saw the Spirit descend in form of a dove and heard the voice of God declaring the identity of Jesus.
- After this happened, John could say with confidence, “This is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
- To anoint him with the Holy Spirit and power (Luke 4:1, 14).
- There seems to be a connection between the descent of the Spirit on Jesus and his ability to utilize miraculous power thereafter.
- It is immediately after the descent of the Spirit (Luke 3:22) that Luke tells us that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (4:1-2).
- The first temptation of Satan involved him trying to get Jesus to misuse his new miraculous power (Luke 4:3).
- Obviously, Jesus already had some connection to the Spirit, having been begotten of him (Luke 1:35). Contextual clues seem to indicate that the phrase relates to divine miraculous power.
- To fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15).
- The lexicons tell us that “righteousness” has to do with adherence to a divine standard. It is upright behavior (cf. Psa. 119:172).
- Because his baptism was an integral part of his Father’s plan to reveal his identity to John (John 1:31) and anoint him with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16) and miraculous power (Luke 4:1, 14), it was necessary that he do it.